When I was 6 years old, my family lived in Ottawa and were part of a vibrant Ukrainian community. I also remember we had these huge sunflowers growing outside our kitchen door off the steps. The flowers with their big faces were taller than I was and almost seemed human to me.

When I was 7,  my family lived in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and even there, we connected with the local Ukrainian community. I remember dancing to a polka called, “It’s fun to be Ukrainian” while I wore my Super Uke t-shirt.

And then when I was 9, we moved to Hawaii and somehow, my mother managed to find the Ukrainian community there as well!

Being Ukrainian is part of who I am. It’s my ancestry and I’m grateful that even though my grandparents and parents fled Ukraine after WW11, we are still keeping our Ukrainian sensibilities, cuisine, language, culture, dancing, traditions and stories alive in the world today.

I love how Ukrainians are standing up to the bullies and aren’t taking these attacks lying down. Ukrainians are fighting for their freedom and are inspiring the world. As my father used to say, “Hooray for the good guys!”

I also love how people from all walks of life, from many nations far and wide, have shown up during this time as well, whether they have Ukrainian roots or not. I’m so touched and moved by the compassion that is circulating. It’s palpable.

Thank you everyone for your prayers, songs, donations, conversations, acts of kindness and for standing with us like sunflowers in a garden in solidarity. It truly means a lot.

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